Star Trek: The Fall: The Poisoned Chalice by James Swallow
In this, the fourth in the five part series, there are so many tangled webs and loose threads. Thus far, all of the novels in The Fall series have events that have taken place almost at the same time as events in the previous three installments, in other words, this is another face of a multi-faceted gem.
So far, here are some of the things we know; President Bacco of the Federation was assassinated apparently by a Bajoran, however Tzenkethi DNA was found at the scene and the Bajoran accused was found to be innocent of the crime. It was then widely believe that the Typhon Pact was at the bottom of the plot to destabilize the Federation and become the premier power in the quadrant. In the meantime, the Typhon Pact is on a recruiting campaign to convince Andor to become a member, but Andor is in the midst of a crisis that is threatening to wipe their race out of existence. Enter Julian Bashier, who through the means of some clandestine and illegal maneuvering, manages to find a solution to the Andorian problem. At the same time, on Cardassia, Elim Garak has become the head of the government and the empire is beginning to heal following the Dominion war that left the planet in shambles with the help of the Federation. However, all is not well on Cardassia when one considers a there exists a xenophobic faction called The True Way.
Poisoned Chalice has three main plots:
Riker, in command of the USS Titan, is recalled to Earth by Admiral Leonard James Akaar, the commander of Starfleet. Immediately upon arrival, Riker id promoted to admiral and charged with the mission to get answers on problems within the Federation leadership. Riker’s investigation leads him to the very office of the President Pro Tem of the Federation, Ishan Anjar. While he has suspicions, he is ultimately unable to get any solid evidence. Velk, the Tellarite aid to Ishan seems to be pulling all of the strings while Ishan campaigns to be duly elected to the Federations highest office.
Riker’s first officer aboard the Titan is re-assigned to command her own ship, however temporarily. She is ordered by Riker to track down Julian Bashier. It is known that Bashier has been incarcerated, but it is not known exactly where he is. He is due to stand trial for committing espionage and treason against the Federation for his role in finding the cure to the Andorian inability to reproduce. Julian is being held on a more or less secret facility and is being allowed no contact. He is also under the threat that if he talks to anyone about what he knows is going on in the Federation, those that helped him secure the meta-genome to help the Andorians will suffer because of him.
Through a series of Clandestine orders, Tuvok, Titan’s Tactical Officer is sent on a mission to track down the Tzenkethi that are thought to be responsible for Bacco’s assassination. He finds himself aboard the Snipe, a ship that appears to be a rundown transport that actually is a state of the art combat ship. He meets up with Tom Riker and Lt. Commander Nog and several other mercenaries and wind up on a wild goose chase that finds them at odds with Klingons. They eventually find the actual assassin, but are thwarted in their attempt to bring that person to justice.
In James Swallow’s segment of The Fall saga, there is everything that one could want from a Trek novel, and more. We have space battles, heroic characters who are willing to stretch the limits of orders to do what is right, some very dodgy characters who are willing to sacrifice everything for their grab at power, and a story that spans the galaxy.
Will Riker, Tuvok, Nog, and Deanna Troi all behave as one would expect them to behave. Riker, while reluctant to accept promotion, does so because he is ordered to and it is his duty. Throw into the mix the non-canon characters that those of us who enjoy the novels love to see and we get a fine story that answers many questions while at the same time raising more.
The action, once again ramps up in Poisoned Chalice and I highly recommend reading all of the books in this series, as it starts out quietly and continually crescendos to the final installment, just released from Dayton Ward, Peaceable Kingdoms.
Well, there it is…